Walk the Moon was one of my personal highlights from the recent MidPoint Music Festival, where the band played a high-energy set wonderfully showcasing its dance-friendly beats, New Wave jubilance and Art Pop creativity. As solid as the foursome is live, I was still a bit stunned by how advanced, imaginative and proficient Walk the Moon comes across on its enchanting debut album, i want! i want!, which is to be released Saturday in conjunction with a multimedia event at The Mockbee. —- (Find show details below and here.)
While the band’s Talking Heads influence is most evident during its live show (they did an exhilarating, wall-shaking version of “Burning Down the House” at MidPoint), myriad other inspirations combine on i want! i want! to create Walk the Moon’s distinct sound. While ’80s New Wave plays a part (mostly via the assorted synth sounds and riffs), you’ll also detect more contemporary sounds in the mix, from more recent Dance/Rock to modern Indie Pop. But it’s the more timeless songwriting, striking (and never pandering) hooks and craftily constructed arrangements that will keep you coming back to the album.
The band’s use of space is remarkable; unlike a lot of young artists, WtM resists the urge to fill up the tracks and instead lets them breathe, making the songs more alluring and adding a sense of drama and mystery. The chugging, disco-ball spin of “Anna Sun” rises and falls, allowing the members to weave in counter melodies and use the elbow-room to paint in subtle, crafty quirks. The exquisite “Lisa Baby” is another highlight — the thick, ropy synth lines drive the dance-machine straight into a sunny, atmospheric chorus that’s as irresistible as anything you’ll hear on the radio today.
Along with the creative, unpredictable rhythms and colorful soundscapes (guided often by the keyboards, which take on an array of tonal forms, from twinkling electric piano to those squiggly, sometimes Moog-y synthesizers to straight-up piano and beyond), the expressive vocals are a huge part of the album’s magnetism. Crafted and delivered with the same arty mindset as the instrumentation, frontman/keyboardist Nicholas Petricca’s melodies are blissfully unexpected yet perfectly addictive. Petricca’s expressive, diverse voice (often stacked and layered) is one of the strongest on the local Indie scene (and it ranks up there with some of the finer nationally-known vocalists, as well).
On i want! i want!, Walk the Moon sounds like they’ve taken elements from modern Indie heroes like Franz Ferdinand, TV on the Radio, LCD Soundsystem, Of Montreal, The Killers, Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, Spoon and Modest Mouse, shredded them through their own vivid imaginations and reassembled the patchwork pieces into something focused and original. With a debut as powerful, polished and compelling as i want! i want!, not only would I not be shocked to hear Walk the Moon was being courted by a large indie or major label — I’d be more stunned if the album didn’t draw big attention to the band.
For Saturday’s release extravaganza at The Mockbee, the band is joined by Gold Shoes, The Harlequins, DJ Dustin Chow and DJ Devon Cherry, as well as avant dance troupe Pones, Inc. The band also screens its latest music video, for the track “Anna Sun,” which was filmed at same venue and directed/produced by Patrick Meier of Contrast Productions (see a preview/album and release show trailer below). Audience participation is a must — there will be a face-painting booth and blank canvases ready to be created upon. The band also asks attendees to dress to match the event’s theme, the Lost Boys (from Peter Pan … though dressing as one of the Coreys from the 1987 vampire flick of the same name would be pretty hilarious). Admission to the 9 p.m. event is $5.